Round One Complaints Rolling in
Associations say providers telling many tales of Round One frustrations.
- By David Kopf
- Jan 06, 2011
With Round One of competitive bidding just a few days past its implementation phase, provides and other industry players are already reporting voluminous complaints to industry associations.
The American Association for Homecare, which is maintaining an operator-staff, toll-free hotline (888-990-0499) and website (www.biddingfeedback.com) for reports of Round One complaints described the incoming information as a “train-wreck.”
In recent days, the Association says it has recorded complaints about:
- Patient confusion or dissatisfaction about the need to switch HME providers,
- Delayed discharge from facilities,
- Admission to hospital because of no access to HME,
- Problems coordinating delivery of items,
- Companies laying off employees, and
- Questions for the Competitive Bidding Implementation Contractor that go unanswered.
The Accredited Medical Equipment Providers of America shared what it called a “patient zero” story about a Jan. 2 call from a case manager working at a large, Miami-area hospital calling an AMEPA member trying to obtain a walker for a patient.
“The Member had to explain that there was a bid program now in effect, they did not win walkers and so the hospital had to look elsewhere,” AMEPA reported. “The hospital had no idea there was a bidding program affecting Medicare patients.
“For a major hospital to be unaware of the bidding program, after it began, is unconscionable, but that is the reality of CMS' lack of education,” the association added. “AMEPA called dozens of hospitals last week and found over a third were unaware of the program and of those who knew, many had no list of winners and did not have a plan to deal with the changes.
AMEPA said the provider told the case manager to go to the CMS website to find companies with which they could do business to service Medicare patients.
The Florida Alliance of Home Care Services reported that Jackson Memorial Hospital, in Miami Dade County, called all non-contracted providers on its rotating list of accredited providers and told them they would not be called to service Medicare patients any longer and that providers who did not win bids will be cut out of all Medicare care.
Although it has been explained to Jackson Hospital that there are non-bid items that patients need and that many providers have sub-contracted with awarded providers, Jackson said it still would not contact those providers, FAHCS reported. FAHCS stated that it was alluded to that Hospital staff feels it is to complicated, calling multiple providers for various equipment when they used to only call one at a time for all a patients needs.
Small business will be eliminated from the pool and as a result, eliminated from business, according to Sean Schwinghammer, Executive Director of FAHCS.
"CMS has said they have small business set asides and are protecting small business, but that is simple untrue,” he said. “What is happening now is what we knew would happen, the big guys will get all the business and the little guys will get the boot. Legitimate businesses are being excluded from Medicare. Shutting out small business will create monopolies and destroy patient care. This is common sense, but CMS seems to have none.”
FAHCS is requesting Jackson Memorial reverse its' policy, but stated “the damage is being done.”
AAHomercare, the National Association of Independent Medical Equipment Providers and AMEPA all urged providers to call 888-990-0499 or visit www.biddingfeedback.com to register their complaints and concerns so that they can be accumulated and used in legislative and other efforts to halt the competitive bidding program.
David Kopf is the Editor of HME Business.